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Adopt A Rescued Rabbit Month 

February 1 2024

February is Adopt A Rescued Rabbit Month! There’s certainly no bad time to bring one of these adorable pets into your home, and we’re always ‘hoppy’ to give Floppy a turn in the spotlight. Bunnies are very, very cute, but they need quite a bit of care and attention. It’s important to think carefully before adopting one of them. In this article, a local Bowmanville, ON veterinarian offers some tips on bringing a bunny into your home.

How Do You Care For A Rescued Rabbit?

Let’s start with the basics. Like any other pet, bunnies need good food, clean water, and a comfy habitat. Floppy will need lots of time out of her cage, so you’ll need to either carefully petproof your home or the areas she’ll be allowed in. Proper veterinary care is also a must. It’s important for you to find a good vet that works with rabbits: not all do.

What Do You Feed A Pet Rabbit?

Rabbit diets should be based mostly on good grass hay, such as Timothy hay. In fact, hay should make up the bulk of your bunny’s menu. Make sure your rabbit always has plenty of fresh hay available. You can supplement this with safe fruits and veggies, as well as many herbs. Small amounts of safe fruits are fine, but you’ll want to be careful, as too much sugar isn’t good for your pet. Always research a new food before giving it to your bunny.

Ask your Bowmanville, ON veterinarian for specific advice.

What Are Unsafe Foods For Rabbits?

It’s important to know exactly what is and isn’t safe for bunnies. This can be tricky, as some of the things one may assume would be fine actually aren’t. For instance, bread, biscuits, pasta, and bread aren’t toxic, but may upset your rabbit’s stomach. Other unsafe foods include iceberg lettuce, avocado, tomato and potato leaves, garlic and onions, oatmeal, coconut, chilis, cookies, candy, chocolate, junk food, and anything with seeds or pups. There are also many foods, such as chard and broccoli, that should only be given sparingly, as they can cause gas.

How Do I Set Up A Bunny Cage?

This is often an area of confusion. Many of the products sold as bunny cages are actually way too small for Floppy. Rabbits are very active, and get quite unhappy if they are cooped up in a small cage. You’ll need to make sure that your rabbit has plenty of room to hop around, stand up, sit down, and play, all without touching the top or sides of her cage.

It’s also important to choose something with a solid floor. Mesh floors don’t hold bedding, and can cause paw and leg injuries. Plus, they just aren’t very comfortable.

Speaking of bedding, avoid anything made from hardwoods, such as pine or  cedar: the oils can cause respiratory issues with small animals. You’ll need to spot-clean the cage daily, and follow up with more thorough cleanings regularly.

You’ll also need to provide the following: 

  • Toys
  • A Hide Box
  • Hay Rack
  • Water bottles
  • Litterbox (optional)

Ask your vet for more information on choosing and setting up a rabbit cage.

Will Bunnies Cuddle With You?

Many rabbits are quite affectionate. Others are a bit shy, and may prefer to hang out beside you, rather than curling up on your lap. There are no guarantees that Floppy will be cuddly: bunnies all have unique personalities. However, even if she isn’t, she may show her affection in other ways, such as rubbing her chin on you or trying to groom you.

What Do I Do If I Find A Dumped Rabbit?

Sadly, it’s not uncommon for bunnies to be dumped. People often adopt them on impulse, without realizing how much care they require or truly understanding their needs. While many are rehomed or surrendered to shelters, others are released into the wild. This is very sad, as pets aren’t equipped to fend for themselves, and often don’t survive long before succumbing to weather, predators, illness, or injury. If you find a bunny that was abandoned, reach out to a local shelter or bunny rescue.

How Do You Bond With A Rescue Rabbit?

Rabbits can be a bit timid. This makes sense, as they are prey animals in the wild. Before you can win Floppy’s love, you’ll have to earn her trust. Good TLC will go a long way here, but you’ll want to make your rabbit feel safe.

Here are a few pointers:

Don’t Force Things: It may take your bunny some time to warm up to you. In fact, Floppy may not feel safe until several months have passed. Don’t rush things!

Talk To Her: Talking to your furry companion can go a long way towards helping her feel safe. Always use friendly, gentle tones. Pay attention to those cute ears, and watch for reactions. It doesn’t matter what you say: the tone of your voice is more important.

Offer Yummy Treats: Food can go a long way towards earning animals’ trust. This is where Floppy’s sweet tooth can come in handy. Your pet may go a bit bonkers for things like sliced apples or strawberries, dried bananas, and melons. Just stick with safe things, and don’t go overboard.

Get Down To Floor Level: If you think about it, you’re pretty much a giant. Sit or lay down on the floor, so you aren’t towering over your best buddy.

Don’t Scare Your Rabbit: Avoid making loud noises or sudden movements. Rabbits tend to be a bit nervous. You could inadvertently frighten your pet.

Let Love Grow: Don’t force attention on Floppy. Avoid picking her up or holding her against her will. This may scare her, which will do more harm than good in the long run. Always let your cute pet come to you. You can try holding out treats, or even some grass.

Learn Bunny Body Language: All of our animal companions have their own forms of nonverbal language. Happy bunnies tend to be very curious and playful. Really happy bunnies may reward you with binkies, which is an informal term for bunny happy dances. However, it’s also important to know the signs of anxiousness. These include freezing, sitting in a hunched position, acting aggressive, flattening the ears. 

What Do I Need To Know Before Adopting A Rabbit?

Whether you’re adopting a bunny or just considering it, you’ll want to do a lot of research. We can touch on the basics in this blog, but there’s a lot more to learn.

That said, we’ll go over a few of the key points here:

Bunnies Need To Chew

This is one of the most important things for new bunny owners to understand. Floppy isn’t trying to be destructive: she’s trying to keep her teeth healthy. Wild bunnies eat a lot of tough roots and fibers. Their teeth are made to hold up to a lot of wear and tear: in fact, they never stop growing. Because pet rabbits have much softer diets, they have to chew things to keep their choppers from getting too long. 

You don’t have to break the bank here: many cardboard, wood, and wicker items are fine. Just don’t offer anything with small parts or sharp edges. You can also offer safe fruit tree branches, as long as they have been cleaned. 

Petproofing Is A Must

You’ll need to make your home safe for your furry companion … and protect your belongings from those little teeth. Petproofing is key. That means keeping anything you don’t want Floppy gnawing on out of reach of those cute paws. You’ll also need to use protective coverings on this like furniture legs, baseboards, or wires. Ask your vet for specific advice.

Rabbits Are Social 

Floppy may be small, but she has a big personality and makes a really fun pet. However, she may be lonely if she’s an only rabbit: these guys are often happiest with a buddy. Consider adopting a bonded pair. 

In Conclusion: Rabbits make wonderful pets, but it’s important to look before you leap. Do plenty of research, and make an informed decision before bringing Floppy home. 

Do you have questions about caring for a bunny? Contact us, your local Bowmanville, ON veterinary clinic, today! 

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